Officiating provides a great foundation for strong friendships across wide distances and over long periods of time. Two summers ago I went out to the 2012 Vail Shootout for a LAREDO 3 officiating camp where I met several officials from all over the country. Four days of working and living with these officials started good friendships that we maintained after leaving for home. We did keep one standing order: keep everyone posted on tournaments near our homes as we all traveled. I was fortunate enough to visit my sister in Manhattan this summer while I was on a work trip, and two of my buddies from Vail, Pat Finn and Dave DuBan told me that there was a tournament at Rutgers. I extended my trip and planned to crash on Dave’s couch for the weekend.
Fortunately, Dave was also assigning this particular tournament and he took care of me with some solid high school assignments. The first day Dave, Pat, and I ran six games in a row as a three-man crew. As I was gearing up near the table I heard a familiar voice behind me: “Yeah Georgia, you better stretch Georgia. You’re in for some real lacrosse today!” I had a good laugh with Pat over that one, and before I knew it we were out reffing and it barely felt like any time had passed since Vail. We got in sync and let the players play, which was not difficult as the players were ridiculously good.
In most of my tournament experiences there is a significant dividing line between the top teams and the middle-of-the-road teams. Not at this tournament. Every offensive player could shoot with power and accuracy. The defenders slid strongly and rarely got beat easily topside. The outlet passes by the goalkeepers were on point all day. I was stunned and texted Greg: “even the bad teams are good.” The best thing was that almost all of the games were close games that featured a lot of up and down action. Dave, Pat, and I spread the field and made the needed safety calls. What turned out to be a lot of fun was hearing the exact same comments from parents, but with regional accents: “That’s a WAD! That’s a WAD! THAT’S A FREAKING WAD!!!” Dave warned me about that, but I had to experience it to really appreciate his warning.
I did make a major change to my face off cadence after the first day because I had at least 17 face off violations by the end of the day. Every player from the area was used to a faster cadence, and my longer pause after set caused a lot of consternation. I didn’t travel up to call face off violations on every other face off, and upon telling that to Keith Glock (World Games Official by the way) later in the evening he suggested that I try swhistling. Having trained several adult and youth official to be deliberate with down, set, whistle this was a tough idea to swallow, but 17 violations is way too many and I wanted to match what the players at the tournament were used to. The second day I went: down, swhistle, and the players faced off with no issues. Brought my number of violations down to three, which resulted in a much smoother day for me and the players. I’m still working on my cadence, but the big lesson is still the same that I teach new officials: don’t keep the players crouched down for a long time, and if someone is lined up wrong turn it over and get the game going.
My entire trip wound up being very worthwhile. I got to see my sister and get some good work done in NYC, I got to reconnect with two guys I hadn’t seen in two years, and I got to adjust my game a little bit and witness the results. I had a blast getting to work games with my friends again, and I got to piss off parents in an entirely new state! Thanks again guys!